SLOVAKIA will refrain from taking reciprocal measures against current European Union members by restricting access to the Slovak job market, despite the fact that the majority of old EU members have put up temporary barriers to protect their labour markets.
However, the Slovak cabinet decided on April 28 that citizens of non-EU member countries would still need work permits in Slovakia.
"The limitation would only prevent managers, experts, and investors from coming to Slovakia," Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan told the press.
The country's prime minister, Mikuláš Dzurinda, called the move a victory of common sense.
"I have always called for common sense and for what is best for the people. Do we need to scare away foreign investors or do we need to attract them?" the PM asked.
Originally, the Labour Ministry had submitted two proposals: one to open the market and one to introduce reciprocal measures against those countries that have restricted the free movement of Slovak workers.
The spokesman of the Labour Ministry, Martin Danko, said that the immediate opening of the country's labour market would not bear any substantial risks.
"Interest in Slovak jobs is very low among people from other countries. The key issue now is that the cabinet should maximise efforts to erase limitations initiated by the old EU members," Danko told the TASR news wire.
In February the ministry had maintained that, "in no case should Slovakia give up its right to take measures protecting its labour market equal to those that have been applied by the current member states against our citizens."
Human resources experts do not see incoming labour as a threat to the Slovak market.
"Unless organisations and private businesses in Slovakia suddenly have the need for labour from EU member states, we don't see incoming labour being an issue in Slovakia," Ronald Bastýř, branch manager with TMP-Hudson Global Resources, told The Slovak Spectator. (See page 9 for more details).
According to Marcela Hrapková, a consultant at Teamconsult, the main effect is that there will be one less bureaucratic measure that EU citizens encounter on the Slovak market.
Hungary and Poland will take reciprocal steps. Though the Czech Republic is not considering any, it will carefully monitor developments on its labour market and, if the unemployment rate swells, it will reach for temporary restrictions. Germany and Austria, which fear an influx of cheap labour from their eastern European neighbours, have announced a seven-year transition period.
France has a five-year transition period but proposed an agreement on the exchange of experts under 35 for between three to 12 months with the possibility of an extention by six months, the SITA news wire wrote.
Belgium, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal have introduced two-year transition periods.
Only Ireland will allow employment for new EU citizens under the same conditions as its domestic work force.
However, similar to the United Kingdom, it will limit foreigner's entitlement to social benefits.
The Slovak government continues to reject and criticise transition periods restricting access to labour markets in other countries.
10. May 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová